Less Tits n' Ass, More Kickin' Ass

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A woman wrote this. Yes I’m a woman. And I wrote this. It contains opinions.

kanthara:

keiren-smith:

Been asked for my opinion (in phone calls and PMs I’ve gotten) and I’ve pointed out that I’ve tried to not comment on ‘the’ cover directly (I’m sure I slipped up somewhere! Gotta be honest, I giggle so hard every time I see it that it’s hard to put a thought together). My entire point, my near-constant argument in life, is that people get to have opinions… and by people, I mean “women”.

Short version:  most women are terrified to speak out loud and express an opinion. They are utterly petrified to do so when they are addressing issues of women, sexism and feminism. The internet has emboldened women to speak out more—but it has also enabled men to easily put more effort into silencing them, or threatening them into silence. When I say “terrified” I mean TERRIFIED. All of you were able to grasp how horrible it was when Janelle Assellin wrote about the death and rape threats she gets…none of you seem to get that the constant onslaught of mockery, sneering and general disrespect is equally exhausting. (Do consider, gentlemen:  You find a woman daring to criticise a working comics pro or illustrator as “disrespectful”, appalling, etc. but you have utterly no problem with mocking her or her defenders across the internet and starting memes to continue that mocking. She’s not entitled to her opinion…so she’s entitled to YOURS telling her that.) Most women I know fear having that spill into public encounters with these men, and having to work or socialise in now-toxic environments. To that end, I have had many private talks with women genuinely upset with the online discussion about the cover, or the levels of vitriol found in the social media accounts of men, even comics pros, they admire. Thus, they are fearful to engage.

The first argument is, of course, that YOU are equally entitled to your opinion.

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Thank you so much for this, Keiren! Your support and explanations really mean a lot to me. I’m reblogging this in both my main tumblr and lesstitsnass. 

Also a big thank you to Yanick Paquette, who pointed me towards this post in Facebook, and revised his stance about the situation after reaching out to me and chatting. The positive feedback REALLY outweighs the negative crap I’ve been getting, and I’m grateful for each and every piece of constructive commentary I’ve been receiving (yes, even the ones that disagree with me, if the issue is about the topic at hand, not on my person or other derailing tactics). 

This is how criticism works, people. I commented about a piece that I thought was a problem in its posing. People who’ve disagreed with me by sending me 3D models showing the pose are actually arguing for the validity of the anatomy, and these are VALID CRITICISMS of my own criticisms. YES. This is how it works. I will comment on these as soon as I can, but first I have 5 pages of script left to storyboard on this episode, and I want to deliver tonight. Yay deadlines! 

FYI.

I have a bunch of asks in my inbox, and I will get to all of them, but I have a more pressing storyboard deadline so I’ll get to your messages as soon as that’s put to bed. Thanks! 

Nice redraws on these comic covers. I have issues, though. I agree that looking like you have no internal organs, or that your back bone is made of rubber is pretty bad, but comic book artists have to ensure that covers are as appealing as possible to entice new readers to pickup their issues. The problem I have with some of your redraws is that, for some of them, everything looks too static and undynamic. Sure, they're anatomically correct, but sometimes, you have to skew bodies to sell.

jessicalprice:

camharr:

toughlovemuse:

lesstitsnass:

Yes, but. 

An enticing cover doesn’t have to be sexualised to be enticing. There are plenty of artists that make kickass covers with great women looking awesome. This blog is a repository of the ones that are twisting for the sake of T&A, and I do agree some of my redraws are much weaker than they could have been, and that’s because 1- I’m not perfect, 2- I’m always learning and 3- redrawing over another existing drawing stiffens up everything. I’m trying to keep roughly the same pose as what was originally drawn and showing you don’t have to thrust out her ass or arch her chest out to make something appealing. 

Listen, I do this blog partly as an educational thing. I want people to develop a critical eye, question what they see, shift the status quo, and if they are artists, pick up a few tips along the way. There’s a reason I keep these sketches loose and unfinished. I’m not trying to comment on people’s style, I’m commenting on their posing choices, and urging people to rethink how they approach art of female characters. I’m not saying “my way or the highway”, I’m saying “it could be better and here’s a suggestion”.

In the recent redraw I did, I fixed Greg Land’s cover because the art wasn’t well composed, but it wasn’t a sexualised cover. As soon as I fixed the legs on SW, I realised the composition would now be crap because the legs would be in front of Silk. I still plodded on. The Manara cover I fixed because the posing WAS sexualised, the pose made me feel uncomfortable, and I wasn’t the only one who felt that way about it. I have nothing against the man as an artist or against his skills. I have nothing against erotic art. The rendering was very nice (if the costume was meant as body paint). I just argued that his posing choice was inappropriate for this cover. 

I’ll lead you to my post about style for more discussion on the matter. Look in particular at my comments on Joe Mad to get what I’m saying.

The other unasked question here is, if bodies have to be skewed “to sell”, who is it that they’re “selling” to, exactly?

The answer is obvious - it positions the book as being FOR GUYS, in particular guys who have a spider-woman wank fantasy. Which is fine if you happen to be one of those guys, but Marvel might lose out in the long run.

I will not be buying this book regularly - at the very least not until I see some reviews telling me that (a) the interior art doesn’t sexualize her the way the exterior art does, and (b) that the writing is well-handled.

Since I would otherwise have been willing to buy it on Day 1 (after the Avengers Assemble run by Kelly Sue, I have been keen to see a Spider-Woman monthly), Marvel can count me as a LOST sale because of the cover art. And the flap about these covers on social media tells me I’m not alone in feeling this way.

Thanks to a university class on advertising, whenever I see/hear “sex sells,” I mentally change it to “women’s bodies sell” for better accuracy. Not even “women”—just the bodies, or parts thereof.

Well, and actually sex, as it turns out, doesn’t necessarily sell. It gets people’s attention, but it actually reduces their ability to remember what you were selling in the first place. 

I actually covered this as well in another lesstitsnass post over a year ago. Thanks for the additional feedback on this, guys! 

Personally, I will also make that mental switch to “women’s bodies sell”. 

Nice redraws on these comic covers. I have issues, though. I agree that looking like you have no internal organs, or that your back bone is made of rubber is pretty bad, but comic book artists have to ensure that covers are as appealing as possible to entice new readers to pickup their issues. The problem I have with some of your redraws is that, for some of them, everything looks too static and undynamic. Sure, they're anatomically correct, but sometimes, you have to skew bodies to sell.

Yes, but. 

An enticing cover doesn’t have to be sexualised to be enticing. There are plenty of artists that make kickass covers with great women looking awesome. This blog is a repository of the ones that are twisting for the sake of T&A, and I do agree some of my redraws are much weaker than they could have been, and that’s because 1- I’m not perfect, 2- I’m always learning and 3- redrawing over another existing drawing stiffens up everything. I’m trying to keep roughly the same pose as what was originally drawn and showing you don’t have to thrust out her ass or arch her chest out to make something appealing. 

Listen, I do this blog partly as an educational thing. I want people to develop a critical eye, question what they see, shift the status quo, and if they are artists, pick up a few tips along the way. There’s a reason I keep these sketches loose and unfinished. I’m not trying to comment on people’s style, I’m commenting on their posing choices, and urging people to rethink how they approach art of female characters. I’m not saying “my way or the highway”, I’m saying “it could be better and here’s a suggestion”.

In the recent redraw I did, I fixed Greg Land’s cover because the art wasn’t well composed, but it wasn’t a sexualised cover. As soon as I fixed the legs on SW, I realised the composition would now be crap because the legs would be in front of Silk. I still plodded on. The Manara cover I fixed because the posing WAS sexualised, the pose made me feel uncomfortable, and I wasn’t the only one who felt that way about it. I have nothing against the man as an artist or against his skills. I have nothing against erotic art. The rendering was very nice (if the costume was meant as body paint). I just argued that his posing choice was inappropriate for this cover. 

I’ll lead you to my post about style for more discussion on the matter. Look in particular at my comments on Joe Mad to get what I’m saying.

It’s a two-fer! Courtesy of @dcwomenkickingass, and specifically this post, I had to do an edit of these, while my storyboards wait. 

I’m not going to go into long explanations here, I hope the drawings do speak for themselves. In the first case, it’s a Land being Land, although I do have to say that he did give a butt to Silk, as opposed to his usual ablation of hips and gluteus maximi. However, he unfortunately did it wrong. 

Artistic anatomy is all about drawing structure, from the inside out. Your muscles by themselves can’t look right if they aren’t placed on top of a properly proportioned skeleton.  Boobs won’t look right if they aren’t drawn as following the curve of the ribcage, its center line, or the movement of the arms which either pull or push on the pectorals on which the breasts hang. The arms back mean the shoulders are lowered, and the angle of the hands will be different since there’s a 3/4 turn on the torso. It shows that Land is drawing by guessed shapes, copied contours and practiced repeated motions. There’s no real structure underneath his shapes.

And if we look at the legs, I can only picture Kitty Pride phasing out of a wall: the legs look like they got mangled up to look like stumps. But even structure-wise, there is no thought put into whether the pose actually works, which is why it looks so clumsy. The legs should be reversed due to the line of action that’s in the torso but not followed through into the pelvis and legs. And I’ve been using the coil technique a lot in order to make my volumes work - it should be obvious by the roughs above - which help me figure out things like foreshortening. 

Silk too was a problem of lack of structure, proportions all over the place, and lack of weight and purpose, but it felt moreso than Spiderwoman. I used the same pose Land did but worked out the skeleton first, using rotation arcs in order to properly proportion the length of the various limbs. I don’t know these characters and I might not have used these poses, but Silk here definitely looks like she’s dancing.

The variant cover by Manara looks like a pose right out of porn, pelvis up and cheeks spread, costume looking like body paint, and it makes me very uncomfortable. She doesn’t look like a superhero about to strike, she looks like she’s about to get… well, it’s a porn pose. This is sexualisation. It also reminds me of the Dog Bone sexy shape. 

So I turned the pose sideways to figure it out, and to see what would work better. The sideways pose as is, as you can see, is angled to do quite the opposite of ass-kicking. Were she to try to leap from that pose, she’d fall flat on her face. The second pose is the “coiled like a spring”, but in the camera angle of the cover, it’s an ugly, ugly pose. So I tried to do something in-between, and just by making the pelvis horizontal and lifting the torso off the ground, I’ve managed to move the center of gravity so her weight is on her feet instead of her knees, she can use her arms to maneuver in most directions, and you still get an interesting body shape to look at. I think this works better, and much more ready to spring into motion.

Wanted also to say thanks for all the reblogs, likes and recent follows! I appreciate each one of them, and it’s because you’re still sharing and commenting that I came back to do this. However I’m still really busy! I won’t be posting a lot, but I do plan on posting more than I have. Back to storyboards for me! 

Aug 9
kanthara:

Oh hey artists and those who want to be artists! 

Betty Edwards’ book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” is available as a starter kit at Chapters! I don’t know if the kit is available online, but I saw it on one of the tables on my way out of the store. You can check Indigo, as well, since it’s all the same company. 

This is one of those how to draw books that I readily recommend because I find it is the best book to learn how to draw what you see, not what you know. If you don’t have it yet and have a Chapters near by, go and get it. It’s worth it.

kanthara:

Oh hey artists and those who want to be artists!

Betty Edwards’ book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” is available as a starter kit at Chapters! I don’t know if the kit is available online, but I saw it on one of the tables on my way out of the store. You can check Indigo, as well, since it’s all the same company.

This is one of those how to draw books that I readily recommend because I find it is the best book to learn how to draw what you see, not what you know. If you don’t have it yet and have a Chapters near by, go and get it. It’s worth it.

Aug 5

After reading your blog I decided to try the boobs and butt pose.. and it worked (painfully). So I suppose it is possible.. however I have Ehlers-Danlos and am capable of doing stuff that people without the disorder couldn't and shouldn't do. Also it looks totally gross and unnatural when I do it.

Anonymous

The point of the boobs and butt pose has been explained in this blog both by myself and other people I’ve reblogged. It’s not a natural pose. It’s a forced one. It’s one that happens only on purpose, or during a particular effort (see She-Hulk demonstration), and when it’s in the latter case, it’s a snapshot pose. It’s not one that lasts, it’s a transition pose.

When a person turns in surprise, the whole body shifts and turns. The hips don’t lock in place and the torso doesn’t swivel at the waist. I have seen people demonstrate that it IS possible to do a “boobs and butt” pose, but every single time it looks stiff, unnatural, strained, and too obviously staged in order to show said boobs and butt. 

And you mention you have a condition that allows you to do it, but you comment that it was painful and looks unnatural. So yes, you do illustrate that the point remains. Boobs and butt poses are a problem, and they really shouldn’t be drawn anymore. 

Aug 3

Are you aware of Hark, a vagrant's webcomics about Strong Female Characters?

But of course! And I adore them. I think I made fanart at some point. Need to find it…

Aug 3

Can I ask for some advice? I am thinking of a design for a character, but I am unsure about a few things.

Anonymous

You could, if you email me directly. Check my “who’s behind this thing” link in the side bar. Since you’re anonymous, I can’t reply to you only, so sorry about the public, extremely general reply.

This goes for everyone. I’m not anonymous, here. If you want to ask me questions that aren’t directly related to badly drawn comic book women, you can contact me directly. Keep in mind I’m really busy with storyboards (which I why I don’t post here much anymore, these analyses take hours to research, redraw and type up) but I do read email, and unless you’re asking me for hours of my time, I can give you feedback. 

I wonder how nobody's submitted anything from Kill la Kill at this point? I guess that anime's problem is old news by now.

Anonymous

Honestly, I tend to focus a lot more on North American comics on this blog, and even then I can’t remember the last time I actually sat down and read a comic. I’m aware of many, many manga with loads of problems that I could address here, but there’s only so many hours in a day, and I’ve been spending a ton of said hours on storyboards, so I haven’t read manga either (although my sons have been borrowing Soul Eater and Fairy Tail from the library, so I got a glimpse of those). I don’t even know what Kill la Kill is. Sorry!

Work is almost done on this show, so I’ll be able to revisit my saved folder of half-started redlines and post a few new corrections soon.